If you are swinging between carrots, tomatoes or spinach To accompany your next meal, go for greens. Researchers at the University of Vienna in Austria have discovered that when green vegetables are decomposed, they release something called sulfokinofose (SQ), a plant-derived sugar, which in turn provides essential food for good gut bacteria to feed on.
“for us Research SQ has been found to promote microorganisms in the gut that are known to be associated with healthy individuals,” says lead study author Buck Hanson, Ph.D. Specifically, SQ is broken down into acetate and hydrogen sulfide, which are metabolites that support the body in functions ranging from brain signaling. To regulating appetite to cardiovascular health, Hanson says. (To find out all this, scientists studied stool samples from a group of vegetarians—hello, plant feces—and worked their way back to work out the effect of SQ on gut microbes.)
The hard part: Researchers are still figuring out exactly how much green stuff you need to eat to get the best results that promote good gut bacteria.
“It’s too early to put a figure on the healthy level of SQ consumption,” says Hanson, who confirms that spinach contains the largest amount of SQ of all the leafy green options.
However, besides health-promoting microbes, “there are other obvious benefits of eating green vegetables, including their vitamin and mineral content, antioxidant properties, and dietary fiber.”
For SQ-loaded greens, try Swiss chard and Swiss cheese omelette for breakfast, add kale to your lunch salad or sandwich, and cook up a side of spinach with dinner.
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